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Wanted to express my admiration (the trials and tribulations of a first modding attempt)


begalund

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This likely doesn't need it's own unique sub-forum, but I wanted to express my admiration to everyone who has ever successfully managed to create any sort of mod for these games and then gone through the trouble to share their work with all of us.

 

After spending the last 6 or 7 days attempting to make a simple piece of armor (and failing miserably no less) I can only take off my hat and bow at everyone who manages to get it right.

 

I did learn quite a bit, and I have some new interesting tools to play around with, but I'm either too smart or too dumb to understand some of the basic concepts.

 

I did follow our resident Mr. Orange's guides to tweaking using bodyslide (very helpful, even with the occasional typo and the huge missing chunk between the PDF version and the web version - see guide 4  heh).  Those guides were most useful, but they only go so far in letting you completely redo a set of armor.  

 

So I made the mistake of leaping down the rabbit hole and trying to build from scratch (or mostly from scratch).

 

1.  Get the starting guides.

2.  Get the tools you need based on guides:  blender, gimp, nifskope

3.  redownload tools since you grabbed the wrong ones because your high-end win7 based machine defaults to 64-bit everything

4.  go back and grab the missing library because you can't import .nif files

5.  upload a body and attempt to follow the guide

6.  waste several hours fighting over differences between the guide's version of blender and the "latest" 32-bit version you have.  

7.  waste more hours fighting over broken English, typos, realization that you are missing 3 additional library files, have no idea how to rearrange the screen layout to something more reasonable, the fact that multiple steps have been skipped or glossed over, and watching the programs crash.

8.  finally get something that might be "okay" looking - if only it had some sort of lacing.  Realize you can't draw for crap normally, even less so with a mouse, and shamelessly go steal someone else's lacing.  Then spend a long time figuring out how to reshape it and attach it to your armor.  

9.  add materials and textures to the parts, and pray that you might have done it correctly

10.  get to the UV mapping part of the exercise and attempt to unwrap the armor.  realize that the base armor piece looks fine, but the lacing has exploded and now fills the whole image - spend an hour learning how to tell gimp to fill in the face you want with the color you want (still not sure I'm even close on this one, since that lacing issue royally screwed me up somehow), make a normal map and since it at least has the right coloring you move on,

11. back to blender and attaching the skeleton.  I know I did weighting in there someplace, but it blurs together after a while, the guide talks about erasing the body parts, but you don't have a body anymore and you have no idea where you lost it.  But the skeleton is still there, so you shrug and keep going.

12.  finally you make it to nifskope and fix all the parts to make it loadable into the game.  then you load up the CK and add it in.  And you realize once again that the guide's layout of the CK and your CK layout are completely different.  so you aren't entirely sure where everything needs to be loaded.  but you fake it and get it all loaded (without all the right stuff since the guide was built for tweaking existing stuff) and save the .esp

13.  at last you fire up the game and look for your item.  and of course it's not where the guide said it would be.  it's nvisible and intangible.  so you console load it, and of course it's invisible on your character as well.

 

*sigh*  Just once I would like to find an actual guide that wasn't missing steps or written for the wrong version or written in such bad English.  Obviously I took a lot of liberties myself with this posting, but imagine the level of frustration to be working from a guide labeled something like "Creating basic clothing in Skyrim in 5 minutes" to finally finishing my first item after 7 days and having it be invisible.  

 

So to all you modders that actually do accomplish something, I salute you.

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blender...

 

More complicated than it needs to be xD

 

Personally between getting Python setup on my computer and taking a look at Blender UI, I was like nope.

So I went on to get 3dsMax, the UI is more familiar to me (more probably because I used max way back in High School, as well as other Autodesk products throughout some classes I took back in college)

 

Now Blender has WAY more community support and plugins, but hopefully with python coming soon to 3dsMax 2015, the tools can be more easily translated to Max as well...

 

But yea, doing it all, like what your doing is also much beyond my capabilities. I can do a little bit of mesh editing/mudbox sculpting, some slight texture work and that's about it.

 

Also, If you want to get a custom armour imported into game, don't use the ck, not if you want to make some custom stuff associated with it as well.

Try the TES5Edit Armour Script: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49373/?

 

And if you get stuck on a part or you can't do a specific part right (Like UV's/Textures/Mesh editing) Well that's what these modding communities are here for primarily.

 

I'm just extremely lucky and blessed that I 'fell' into the correct modding crowd here on LL and got some of the greatest people helping me out with my own ideas :) (the unofficial chat is filled with them)

 

P.S. Let me know if I err in any of my guides, and if you want a 3dsMax/Mudbox guide (I dunno how to use Blender/GIMP sorry :( )

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I am beginning to understand how awful blender might be, but it's free, and that's what I needed atm.  I've just about figured it (blender) all out (unfortunately), at least in terms of the drawing aspects of it.  that's relatively easy.  The hard parts for me are attempting to translate from the various guides into what the terminology actually means.  I suppose the problem is that I've done zero 3-d modeling of any sort beyond a single 2-credit autocad class roughly 20 years ago.  So I haven't grasped the concepts of what an armature is and what it does for me ... how using the body in the armor mod helps me in any way if I've already got the skeleton and the armor isn't transparent ...

 

and then of course how to work with layers when you go to paint the meshes and textures since I'm still positive something exploded on me in that step...

 

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3dsmax and most other Autodesk products are available free as student downloads.

 

But yea besides point, the reason why you need the body inside the armour is because that's how armours in skyrim work. It replaces the biped slot that body's take up.

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I use this and just convert armors to the body type that I want it works for fallout New Vegas Oblivion and Skyrim. It works better if the to and from bodies have matching UV maps. http://www.loverslab.com/topic/27557-new-clothing-body-style-converter-release-candidate-v072-3-30-2014/ I use gimp with .dds plugin for modifying outfits by changing colors and cutting out parts of a armor and then a alphaproperty to that part to make is show up invisible.

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Belive i tried use blender and cant use that even to save my life, took 3ds max sometime ago (student) and im cool with 3ds max (i mean i still a crap, but at least i can do some horrible bikinis there^^, sometimes wish have newmiller or neo skills with modeling, both guys do amazing ones projects)

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And so my trials must continue.  *sigh*  You would think I would have learned my lessons by now, but no.  I decide just for the sake of argument to grab a copy of 3ds max and mudbox, just to play around with them a bit.  I know better by this point not to grab the latest and greatest version so I skip the 2015 beta.  I don't even go for 2014 because I remember reading about how the nif importer isn't written yet.  So I go for the 2013 version.  I even decide to grab the 32bit version because it seems that everything skyrim is stuck in 32bit land.  I wait the requisite 24hrs for the registration key to clear and I finish installing my new programs.  W00t, I think to myself.  I start importing the required libraries I know I need.

 

Turns out, of course, I didn't go back far enough.  Apparently the 2013 version isn't 100% up to snuff either.  There is a guy that has been working on an importer over on the skyblivion development forums.  And apparently it works.  Except for me.  When I install it - assuming I'm doing it right - I get a lovely error:

 

--------------------------- Error Loading Plug-in DLL ---------------------------
DLL <C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2013\PlugIns\EhamPlugin.dlu> failed to initialize.
Error code 193 - %1 is not a valid Win32 application.
 
And yes, I've checked repeatedly, I grabbed the 32-bit version of the plugin.  Apparently it either just doesn't work for me, or I'm an idiot (I'm also not ruling out the case where both states are true).
 
So I have two lovely new programs that aren't particularly helpful, since I can't actually load or export anything in the right format.  Sometimes I think this game just wants me to suffer.  Anybody know what the Skyrim Modding's safe word is?  I'm done with my S&M session now.
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And so my trials must continue.  *sigh*  You would think I would have learned my lessons by now, but no.  I decide just for the sake of argument to grab a copy of 3ds max and mudbox, just to play around with them a bit.  I know better by this point not to grab the latest and greatest version so I skip the 2015 beta.  I don't even go for 2014 because I remember reading about how the nif importer isn't written yet.  So I go for the 2013 version.  I even decide to grab the 32bit version because it seems that everything skyrim is stuck in 32bit land.  I wait the requisite 24hrs for the registration key to clear and I finish installing my new programs.  W00t, I think to myself.  I start importing the required libraries I know I need.

 

Turns out, of course, I didn't go back far enough.  Apparently the 2013 version isn't 100% up to snuff either.  There is a guy that has been working on an importer over on the skyblivion development forums.  And apparently it works.  Except for me.  When I install it - assuming I'm doing it right - I get a lovely error:

 

--------------------------- Error Loading Plug-in DLL ---------------------------
DLL <C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2013\PlugIns\EhamPlugin.dlu> failed to initialize.
Error code 193 - %1 is not a valid Win32 application.
 
And yes, I've checked repeatedly, I grabbed the 32-bit version of the plugin.  Apparently it either just doesn't work for me, or I'm an idiot (I'm also not ruling out the case where both states are true).
 
So I have two lovely new programs that aren't particularly helpful, since I can't actually load or export anything in the right format.  Sometimes I think this game just wants me to suffer.  Anybody know what the Skyrim Modding's safe word is?  I'm done with my S&M session now.

 

 

2014 works just fine with that importer (I use 2014 myself)

Unfortunately 2015 won't work with it as Autodesk changed the API, again :/

 

Anyway, how'd you install the plugin?

Could just be you didn't put stuff in the right place...

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That's what I suspect, since I'm not getting any feedback on that site's forums.  I must be doing something very basic wrong.  Anyway, since there was no extraction file structure in the rar, and no instructions, I followed the layout of the rar itself.  so:

 

niflib.dll  went in the base 3dsmax directory

all the files in plugins\ went into the plugins\ directory (that one seemed obvious)

and all the files in the plugcfg\ directory went into that directory (also seemed obvious).  

 

Since there was no installer in the rar, I was hoping that was it.  But I suppose I might have needed to have the program itself load the plugin.  I hadn't tried that - it's been a very long week and weekend.   :-/

 

But that was it.  It seemed simple enough.  I'll play with it more tomorrow.  I need sleep now.

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Still no luck on the 3ds max thing, I've got no idea what is up on that end.  So I go back to the blender - gimp combo.  I get a lot better at using blender and nifskope this weekend - especially today.  Now gimp starts acting like a bitch.  Add layers - no problem.  Add in sample textures so I have something to copy from, no problem.  Replicate the main layer so I can practice erasing those areas I want left out.  Basically it's a simple two-toned vest.  Paint one panel one color/texture, paint the other panel the other color/texture.  Since I'm still learning, I'm planning on making each panel a separate layer, filling it in with a texture grab, and then overlaying the layers to make one image again.  Assuming I can figure it out anyway.

 

I manage to erase the parts I want on layer #1 with no trouble, I move on to layer #2 and now the erase tool doesn't do anything.  I try to just paint, and it covers like 40 pixels and stops, and then nothing changes colors anymore.  It's almost like I was playing with a trial version and my trial time just ran out.  The program is still running, I can save and load.  Switch between layers, turn them on and off, select different tools, change colors, switch between fg and bg, but nothing I do actually has any affect in the image window.  It is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen.

 

Even if I close down gimp and then relaunch the same file, I can't make further changes.  I swear sometimes I think my machine is possessed by some mad god who is determined to prevent me from completing whatever one simple task I've set my sights on.

 

http://www.xkcd.com/1316

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To each his own. What i have with blender most have with 3dmax. After using blender for so long i cannot grasp 3damax at all. One person above said blender suck, to me it was actually 3dmax who sucked.

 

The first thing to do when using program like blender is quickly familiarize the UI. Once you got that and know the button layout blender can be really easy to master. The way the UI is setup is you can actually fully modify it to suit your own need.

 

3dmax never really worked right at all on my pc. in the end i had scrap it completely.

 

There is free student but have not been a student in long time. So i am not really going to pay for it if i can my own blender for free.

 

The only thing right now it seem that 3dmax has over blender the for skyrim. But it will only take some time before blender gets it's script fixed and will be able to create animations on the fly again.

 

Besides newer version of blender can do allot more then it previously could.

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Okay, I'm done.

 

That would be week 3.  Apparently I'm either an idiot, I've lost the ability to read English, or I'm just not meant to do this.

 

Somewhere between "create texture map" and "attempt to load your friggin' armor into the game" something goes terribly wrong.

 

It doesn't appear to matter which guide I follow, either the armor remains completely invisible - ie the textures I made are never loaded, although I'm positive I've linked them in nifskope in the right place - or else I can't get whichever loading tool to even recognize that I've generated a .nif file.  (For what it is worth, the help files on the Automation Tools for TES5 need work)

 

So yeah, time to give up.  Apparently there is some stupid core concept I've missed - repeatedly.  Hell I'd even be happy to just take an existing armor piece, not change the mesh work at all and make it pink.  But at this point I'm worried that all the daedric armor in the game would become invisible too.

 

I am most annoyed.

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That is possible.  While I am pretty sure in at least one of my many attempts I did add BSDismembering or NiSkinInstance to my armor piece (and I'm only working on a single item at this point btw), that never seems to be the issue.  Rather, the bigger problem seems to be one of two things, either the loading tool can't find the texture files at all, no matter how I linked them in either blender or nifskope (or both for that matter), or else the loader doesn't seem to even recognize that I've even got a nif file present.

 

And by loader tool I would mean either the CK - which never seems to find the texture files, or the TES5 Automation tools - which I've never gotten to work, since it has yet to even recognize that there is a nif present in the directory (hence my rant about the lack of useful documentation).

 

Frankly I'm beginning to think that part of the problem is also stemming from the fact that skyrim itemself is being run through MO - hence I have all of these virtual data directories, and the loader tools are getting confused - but even when I attempted putting the files in the real skyrim data directory (non-virtual) or created a fake mod for MO to "load" into the virtual data space so that the files were at least present - it still didn't matter.  Neither of the loaders would work as expected.  I still can't get textures to be seen with the CK or even the mesh with the automation tool.

 

I know I'm missing something obvious and likely fairly stupid, but I'm frustrated enough at this point that I need to step back and take a break from it. Otherwise I'll hurt something.

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Partial success!  

 

Okay, so a miracle occurred.  I gave it one more attempt.  I'm a stubborn SOB, what can I say?

 

And suddenly there in the CK appeared a piece of armor with colors!

 

All right, I'll admit it - it looks like crap in game.  The colors are muted.  The textures are way too grainy.  The base body is still invisible from the elbows to the wrists and the rest of the body is completely 100% black.

 

But the piece of armor I made is at least present, and colored the way I painted it.  What do you know, apparently I was able to figure this out - at least in part.  Assuming I ever do get this down, I might recreate the guide I'm using for the uninitiated like me.  Something for the complete novice armor modder.  

 

You know, written in actual English, and with complete sentences.  No missing steps, and explanations of what you are doing.

 

Now to figure out what's wrong with the underlying body ...

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Well, after finally fooling around long enough, and achieving at least partial success (see above), I finally posted in another forum link with some technical questions about what I messed up on ...

(see: http://www.loverslab.com/topic/30875-armor-modding-missing-something-minor/)

 

I got a couple of pointers, but the end result was to make another attempt at attempting 3dsmax.  And since I already had my account set up, I went ahead and got the 2012 version with all the proper plugins.  Spent the last few days watching how-to videos and kicking myself for attempting blender.

 

Basic differences that I can already see making my life easier:

 

1. knowing if the skeleton is loaded or not, and therefore knowing whether or not you need to load it again or not.

2. locking the damn body in place so it doesn't shift on you.  then when you add other things to mold around it, they start off in the right place too.

3. soft scaled vertex dragging via a checkbox.  

4. left clicking to select!  no more accidentally left clicking on the screen and shifting the focus of the cursor

and of course 

5. texture importing in the perspective view, so you can actually see what the item looks like

 

Now I'll admit I haven't played with it enough to actually get anywhere yet.  It will likely be another week or so before I have anything completed I'd be comfortable playing around with, but I can already tell this is the better tool for me.

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